Mid-morning on Sunday August 15, John Gerrish and Ellen Chung bundled up their one-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog, Oski, and drove to the start of the Savage Lundy trail, a walking track not far from their home in Central California's Sierra National Forest.
The day was hot. Around 37°C. But the couple were carrying pouches filled with water and were, by all accounts, experienced hikers. Friends said they'd take weekend walks often, and their social media captured pre-parenthood adventures through arduous terrain like the Himalayas and Asia's Gobi desert.
But something on this routine family hike proved lethal.
The bodies of all three, along with the dog, were discovered on Tuesday, August 17, a day after they were reported missing.
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The couple's nanny had arrived at their house in the small community of Mariposa on Monday to find it quiet. Empty. No car. Not even Oski. When John, a software engineer, failed to log on for work that day, search and rescue teams were dispatched to the area.
After locating the family's car near the mouth of the trail, authorities swarmed through the forest and, roughly two kilometres away, they made the devastating discovery.
According to The San Francicso Chronicle, John, 45, was found in a seated position, with his daughter and dog alongside him. Ellen, 30, was a little farther up the hill.
It appeared the family was near the end of their hike when they perished.
Three weeks on, and despite initial autopsy reports, authorities are yet to determine what killed the family. There were no signs of trauma, and no indication that their deaths were intentional. They had water supplies remaining.
Speaking to the media, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said that he had not encountered such a mysterious case in his two decades on the job.